Report: Carriers add 17-18% ship capacity in Asian trades
Despite a shortage of containerships in the charter market, shipping lines have added substantial capacity in the major Asian east/west trades, according to a report released this week by ComPair Data.
The January World Liner Supply reports of Jacksonville-based ComPair Data, a business partner of American Shipper, found that trade-wide eastbound transpacific capacity rose 17 percent to about 298,0000 TEUs a week on Jan. 1, up from about 255,000 TEUs a week at the beginning of 2004.
Total westbound capacity in the Asia-to-Europe trade expanded 18 percent to about 217,000 TEUs a week on Jan. 1, from about 183,000 TEUs in the start of 2004.
The annual increases in nominal ship capacity match relatively closely the growth of cargo volumes in these two trades. In the headhaul (ex-Asia) direction, cargo volumes in the transpacific are estimated to have increased 13-15 percent in 2004, while Asia-to-Europe box volumes grew about 17 percent.
Shipping lines added five transpacific services and four Asia/Europe services before the 2004 peak season, and have increased the average capacity of ships in both trades at the same time, ComPair Data said.
However, some of the additional capacity was offset by delays or ship diversions caused by congestion on the U.S. West Coast during the peak months.
Contrary to previous years, few transpacific carriers have suspended services that were launched before the peak season. The only suspended service so far was the PS5/TP5 Asia/U.S. West Coast weekly service operated by APL and MOL for the duration of the peak season.
Unlike the Asian liner trades, the transatlantic trade has seen only a modest increase in ship capacity of 5 percent since last January.
“Over the past four years, the North America/North Europe trade has continually seen only a marginal increase in supply, while the booming Asian trades have attracted most of the additional capacity,” ComPair Data said.
The ratio between the headhaul eastbound Pacific capacity and the headhaul westbound Atlantic capacity was 3:1 in January 2001, but this figure has now widened to 5:1 in January 2005, ComPair Data said.
On Jan. 1, liner shipping companies employed a total of 565 ships in the transpacific trade on 79 joint or individual liner services. At the same date, 433 vessels were deployed on 50 services in the Asia/Europe trade.
As shippers route an increasing proportion of their Asian cargoes through ports of the U.S. East and Gulf coasts, shipping lines continue to focus a greater share of their capacity to those all-water routes. ComPair Data estimates that some 60,000 TEUs in weekly capacity is now provided on routes to the U.S. Gulf Coast, U.S. East Coast and Halifax, as compared to 239,000 TEUs a week offered on routes to ports on the Pacific coast of North America.
Paid subscribers to American Shipper can download the latest capacity reports from http://www.compairdata.com/wls.htm .
All-water East and Gulf coast services that have added capacity in the fourth quarter include the new “AWE-4” service of COSCO, “K” Line, Yang Ming and Hanjin and the Pacific Gulf Express loop of China Shipping, CMA CGM, P&O Nedlloyd and FESCO.
The Transpacific Stabilization Agreement said recently its member carriers expect 10-12 percent eastbound cargo growth this year in the Pacific trade.